Falklands born, Argentine citizen Alejandro Betts rejected statements published in Clarin which described his 'Malvinas veteran' pension as 'controversial' and admitted he was surprised, when not startled by the headline display the news was given by the Buenos Aires daily in reference to his activity during the 1982 South Atlantic conflict.
I never denied being an Argentine Malvinas war veteran. I don't understand Clarin' attitude which has always been considered at national level as a prestigious publication. I'm surprised and startled by this attitude, said Betts speaking to a Tierra del Fuego radio station.
Betts who was born in Stanley (Puerto Argentino), descendent of a British family, but supports Argentine sovereignty rights over the Falklands/Malvinas said that one of the requisites to collect the veteran's pension is to have effectively been at the Malvinas Operations Theatre, TOM.
And I was there throughout the whole conflict dodging stray bullets and shrapnel from British bombings on our positions, besides 22 caliber shots from sharpshooters in Puerto Argentino that appeared when the sun went down, recalled Betts. He also mentioned that since 1979 he was civilian staff of the Argentine Air Force, working for LADE, the Argentine State Airlines which at the time linked the Islands with the continent.
In my same condition were the rest of people who held jobs in Malvinas at the time, such as telephone, post office and fuel distribution staff, as well as journalists argued Betts, who voted for the first time in Argentine elections last 21 June, in Tierra del Fuego.
Betts said that LADE flights to the continent continued until 28 April 1982, since on May first the British counteroffensive started and we received orders not to return to the local airport for safety reasons.
”Our (Argentine) armed forces had strict written orders that no Islander had to be exposed or injured during the recovery activities of the Islands. That is why I accepted the order. The officer told me something I never forgot: bullets don't have names or sir-names, and could come from any direction, added Betts.
He then started with other activities such as the sale and distribution of cooking gas to the locals. The fuel was supplied by Argentina's Gas State corporation.
I was living at my Mom's home in the outskirts of Puerto Argentino, and then came the order from the Malvinas governorship, around 15 May, suggesting I look for a more protected house and if possible of cement. Since I was linked to the YPF people I moved to a house close to the promenade by the sea, where I lived until the end of the conflict and was evacuated by the Red Cross to the continent, revealed the former Islander who has an Argentine ID extended by the Ushuaia Registry.
Likewise Betts argues that during the Malvinas war, there was a hostile attitude towards him from all the Islanders living in Puerto Argentino, because of his well known position in favor of Argentine sovereignty over the Islands, including from my family with the exception of my mom that always kept phone contact with me.
Finally Betts says the was never contacted by Clarin to talk about his veteran's pension and that is why he is surprised at the daily's attitude towards him: it won't make me change my opinion; on the contrary it makes me feel stronger and more supportive of Argentina's rights over Malvinas.
Betts not only voted in Tierra del Fuego elections, where he is registered since the most austral province of Argentina also includes South Atlantic Islands (obviously Malvinas) and Antarctica” but also accepted to be candidate for a seat in the Parlasur (Mercosur parliament) in representation of the Social Patagonia Party (PSP), of Fabiana Riosm, the current governor of Tierra del Fuego.
In an article published in Clarin and credited to Ana Gerschenson, the Argentine journalist points out that Alexander Jacob Betts Goss, who after the war settled in Cordoba figures in the listings of Argentina's Ministry of Defense as a Malvinas war veteran with a pension of approximately 13.000 Pesos or 1.000 dollars at the parallel market exchange rate.
According to the piece Betts was granted the pension for having worked for the Argentine Air Force LADE airline which operated from the Falklands based on the 1971 communications' agreement with Argentina.
He worked as a clerk at the airport, translator and other odd jobs from 1979 to 1982 an Argentine air force source told Clarin. But at the time he was not an Argentine citizen and this has caused further controversy if not disappointment since Malvinas veterans pensions are paid out to 23.000 allegedly former combatants, when in reality only 14.000 made it to the Falklands theatre.
This situation together with Betts case and a recent ruling from Argentina's Supreme Court on a Malvinas pension request favoring a navy officer who spent time in Puerto Belgrano and later in Rio Grande, but never saw combat has not caused pleasure to the Veterans Associations who feel they have always been mistreated or left aside turning the veterans' pension not in an honor but a bureaucratic wise guy's abuse.